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State of the Game: 2018 Ohio College Lacrosse Kick Off Weekend

February 2, 2018
In the last weekend of January in Ohio, we were sunbathing as the temperature hit 56 degrees. We are expecting the temperature to be just above freezing this weekend, and that’s how we know it is opening weekend of men’s college lacrosse! We hope to get things warmed up this weekend with the interstate Division I battle for Ohio. One team looking to get back to a NCAA title game and the other enjoying the fact that they now have upperclassmen on their squad!

Ohio State at Cleveland State
Saturday February 3 6:00pm on LSN
Last year, this game was a 12-4 victory for the Buckeyes in the first ever meeting between the only two NCAA Division I teams in Ohio. The Vikings had just enough ingredients on their inaugural squad to keep the game interesting. In the cage, Caleb Espinoza started off shaky for the Vikings with only one save vs. four goals in the first quarter. Espinoza then steadied the ship by making nine saves vs. eight goals in the remaining three quarters. Faceoff man Danny Tesler went 9-for-17 on the day against the stellar faceoff unit of Ohio State. Not only did Danny have a day at the X, but he found the back of the net twice for the Vikings.

The Buckeyes are coming off the best year in team history, and I am sure they want to hit the ground running in Cleveland. Leading scorer for the Buckeyes in the game against CSU, Tre Leclaire (3 Goals) returns, along with senior attackman Colin Chell, who scored 21 goals and 12 assists in his junior year campaign. The Bucks graduated numerous offensive threats last year, but look for Jack Jasinki, Lukas Buckley and John Kelly—along with a talented recruiting class—to pick up the pieces. On the defensive end, the Buckeyes are fortunate to have the skills of, All-American senior defender, Ben Randall and the experienced senior Freddy Freibott. The big question will be ‘who fills in at the X and in the cage?’ Last season, OSU enjoyed great performances from Jake Withers at the X and Tom Carey in goal. Both players were drafted into Major League Lacrosse. The next game for the Buckeyes will be Feb. 10 in their home opener vs. Boston College, while Cleveland State will head to the University Michigan on the same date.

Hopefully the Ohio State vs. Cleveland State game is enough to wet your college lacrosse whistle. We will all have to wait two weeks before we catch any Ohio Division III action. On Saturday Feb. 17, the Lords of Kenyon will travel to Washington & Jefferson College to take on the Presidents. The two schools have not met up since 2013. In their last meeting, the Lords beat the Presidents 9-7. Mount Union of the OAC will travel to Theil College to try and avenge their 12-6 loss in their 2017 campaign.  Ohio Wesleyan of the NCAC will open on the road against 2017 national runner up, Rochester Institute of Technology. The Bishops lost to RIT in the 2017 opener in a 12-11 nail bitter. Mt. St. Joe will kick the year off vs. Centre College for the second year in a row. Ohio Northern kick off their third season of play against Calvin College. The Polar Bears beat Calvin 12-4 in 2017.

If you are a Division II fan, you have the same wait as Division III fans. Walsh University will meet up with Lincoln Memorial in a unique, neutral site matchup at Elder HS in Cincinnati. This will be the first time that the two will square off. Lake Erie College is the only other Division II team in the state, and they kick off on March 3 at Merrimack College.

Last year, I did an ALL OHIO COLLEGE PRESEASON POLL on which teams had the most potential for the upcoming season. After getting some insightful feedback, I have drawn up my rankings for the 2018 season.  Thanks to all my good friends who helped me with my ranking decisions, I couldn’t do it justice myself!” I wish the best of luck to all teams and we will see where the dust settles at the end of the season.”

1)     Ohio State University Preseason 7 th [NCAA DI Big Ten]

2)     Denison College Preseason 4 th [NCAA DIII NCAC]

3)     Cleveland State [NCAA DI Independent]

4)     Ohio Wesleyan University [NCAA DIII NCAC]

5)     Wittenberg University [NCAA DIII NCAC]

6)     John Carrol University [NCAA DIII OAC]

7)     College of Wooster [NCAA DIII NCAC]

8)     Capital University [NCAA DIII OAC]

9)     Baldwin Wallace University [NCAA DIII OAC]

10)  Kenyon College [NCAA DIII NCAC]

Others receiving votes Lake Erie College [NCAA DII GMAC], Otterbein University [NCAA DIII OAC], Ohio Northern University [NCAA DIII OAC]

If you want to look at my 2017 picks click here!